Public Health Agency of Canada’s Innovation Strategy

From the Public Health Agency of Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada's Innovation Strategy is a national grants and contributions program. It provides multi-year funding and support to population health interventions across Canada using a population health research approach. The Innovation Strategy and its funded projects aim to discover what programs and policies work, for whom and in what context. This is done through:

  • planning
  • implementation
  • evaluation
  • sharing of knowledge

The Innovation Strategy's population health intervention research approach

A population health intervention is a policy or program designed to reduce health inequity in a population. It does this by addressing the social, economic and environmental factors that determine health.

Examples of interventions that address such underlying factors include:

  • a program to help new mothers learn strategies to help them cope with post-partum depression
  • policies to provide more nutritious food choices in convenience stores located in low-income neighbourhoods

Population health intervention research is a process by which policies and programs are evaluated to generate knowledge. This knowledge is used to help maximize the reach and sustainability of programs. This approach can help to equalize the distribution of positive health outcomes across a given population.

Phased approach

The Innovation Strategy provides funding in 3 phases:

  • phase 1 has a 1-year duration for program or policy:
    • initial design
    • development
    • testing
    • initial delivery
  • phase 2 has a duration of up to 4 years for:
    • full implementation
    • continuous adaptation to changing community contexts
    • evaluation
  • phase 3 has a duration of 3 years for:
    • scale up to expand the project:
      • reach
      • sustainability
      • system-wide impact
    • implementation in new communities 

Key characteristics

There are several key characteristics that make the Innovation Strategy unique, including:

  • investing in large-scale projects to allow enough time (up to 8 years) for:
    • development
    • implementation
    • knowledge development and exchange
    • evaluation of the initiative
  • leading interventions (projects) through:
    • community-based organizations that have partners with the expertise to evaluate programs with rigour and to produce high-quality evidence, including:
      • universities
      • researchers
  • continuous adaptation to changing contexts
  • the aim is to obtain a deeper understanding of how interventions can evolve to better serve the diverse communities in which they operate
  • joining multiple partners from a variety of sectors from within and outside the health sector
    • this supports projects to influence policies that affect the broader determinants of health
    • these partnerships allow everyone to work on projects that often take place simultaneously in various settings, such as:
      • in the workplace
      • at school
      • at home
      • in multiple communities

Thematic streams of interventions

The Innovation Strategy supports evidence-based population health interventions across Canada. These seek to reduce health inequalities in 2 priority areas:

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